Make a Fun “Pool Rules” Sign
Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have done a lot of renovations to our property, but now that all of that work is coming to completion, I wanted to create something that celebrates having our pool back!
This “Pool Rules” sign is the perfect new accent to our backyard. The bright colors really pop against the deep azure blue background – and so does the humor!
**Fair warning though, this project does require some knowledge of layering techniques.**
- Wood board (I used a 12 x 16 artist panel from Dollarama)
- Fine grit sandpaper (if necessary)
- Wood staining sponge or rag and a foam brush
- Protective gloves and table cover
- Water-based wood stain (I use SamaN in azure)
- Water-based wood finish (I used Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Exterior – glossy)
- Painter’s pyramids (optional)
- Permanent Vinyl (I used Oracal 651 in various colors)
- Digital products: Pool Rules Graphic
- Heat gun (optional, but recommended)
- Transfer Tape
- Weeding tools and scraper
- Cricut cutting machine (or other)
Create Your Pool Rules Sign!
Prepare the Wood
To begin, you can go ahead and cut your wood blank if necessary, unless you are using a pre-cut artist’s panel like mine. If you need to, give it a light sanding to remove any rough and/or imperfect areas.
With a slightly damp cloth, remove any excess dust and allow the wood to dry for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Staining the Wood
After you have prepped your wood board or panel, it’s time to add some gorgeous color! A word of caution though, it’s extremely important that you use only water-based stains. Anything oil-based may eventually cause your vinyl to peel or lift – which you absolutely do not want. SamaN water-based wood stains are my go-to choice when working with vinyl on wood – not to mention they have a huge variety of colors!
To use, simply rub a fair-sized amount of the stain onto all sides of your wood with your sponge or rag.
- 👉 Painter’s Pyramids to Save Time! Painter’s pyramids are a must-have for speeding up your staining/sealing time. By using them, you can stain your entire project at once, without having to wait for each side to dry before applying stain to the other sides.
If you don’t have any painter’s pyramids, you should allow one side to dry first before moving onto the other side.
Allow the wood to dry for 1-2 hours.
Protecting the Wood
After the stain has dried, you can apply a second coat if desired/needed. Repeat the same steps you did for the first coat of stain – but you will want to let the stain dry for at least 5-6 hours before applying your sealant.
Adding one coat of water-based Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Exterior will help the vinyl adhere much easier than trying to apply without it. It also gives an additional layer of protection against the weather, as this sign will be hung up poolside, outdoors. This step is optional, but I highly recommend it to ensure that your sign lasts for a very long time!
Using a paintbrush or foam applicator, dip it into the can of wood finish, wiping off any excess to avoid drips falling onto your table or wood. Lightly coat all sides of the wood board.
Once fully coated, you will again have to let it dry for 12-24 hours before applying the vinyl.
Cricut Design Space
While you’re waiting for the finish to thoroughly dry, you can start the work for your vinyl design. First, head over Creative Fabrica and download the Pool Rules Graphic, and extract the folder. This is my favorite version of a pool rules SVG file. The design is bold and eye-catching, and each color is already separated – making layering on the mats so much easier!
Both the Cricut Explore and the Maker cut this design beautifully and weeding was a cinch.
Now you’ll need to create your template in Cricut Design Space. On a new canvas, insert a shape from the Shapes Library that best reflects the shape of your wood blank. Now just unlock it and change the size dimensions accordingly to your wood board or panel.
I used a 12” x 16” artist’s panel that I got from the dollar store, so I inserted a square shape and adjusted the size to those same measurements.
Now that you have your template all ready for designing, go ahead and upload the Pool Rules SVG that you extracted earlier. Simply adjust the size to fit your template nicely. One of the great things about this SVG is that it gives you a little stretching room if you need it a little wider to fit your blank – without the text looking warped.
Now that you have your re-sized design, you can delete the template in the layers panel because you will not be cutting it.
You can see how many color layers there are in the entire SVG by looking at the layers panel. You can also view the colors on the “color Sync” panel, which, in this case, allows you to determine how many layers you will need to create for the cut. You can change any of the colors you want; if you only have two different colors of vinyl then change the layers to those same colors. You are not at all obligated to cut all ten colors within this file!
Go ahead and create your layers using your favorite method, then cut, weed, layer, and then set aside. If you are not familiar with layering vinyl, there are tons of videos on YouTube to help you get started, but “Easy How To Layer Multiple Vinyl” by CeCe D Smith was particularly helpful to me when I first started Cricut crafting a couple of years ago.
- 👉 Layering Tip: If you prefer, and if you have some experience with layering behind you already, you can skip the registration marks to save some time (and vinyl) and manually place each of the layers on the wood as I ended up doing. Just keep the white layer intact so you have a top and bottom guide to start with.
Applying the Vinyl
Now that your coat of finish is dry, you can add your vinyl decal/s.
Line up the transfer in the manner that you want it placed, then go ahead and burnish it. Don’t worry if your vinyl is acting stubborn, the texture of the wood makes it one of the trickiest surfaces to get the vinyl to stick to. Just go slowly and burnish with your scraper as you carefully lift the transfer tape off. At this point, you will see how the sealant that you applied previously helps to make the transfer go much more quickly and easily.
After the decal/s has been applied, burnish again; but this time with light pressure, to ensure that there are no air bubbles. Be careful to not damage the vinyl!
At this point you can take out your heat gun and warm up the vinyl a little bit, pressing it down as you move along. This will create a “faux-painted on” look to the vinyl and save you a lot of “curing” time. It also ensures that the vinyl has adhered well for the final step – but be careful! The heat gun is extremely hot so you might want to use some oven mitts or heat-safe gloves as a precaution.
If you don’t have a heat gun, no worries! Just allow the vinyl to “cure” for at least 12 – 24 hours before adding the final coat of finish.
To finish this project off, apply one final coat of the water-based exterior wood finish to add an additional layer of protection for both the vinyl and wood.
After 24 hours, take a picture hanger and attach it to the back of your sign.
Voila! Now you can hang up your pool rules sign and admire the bright and colorful display – and enjoy the giggles!
Keep on Crafting! 💖